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Austrian counterintelligence agent suspected of leaking state secrets to Russia - report

The man faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty

VIENNA, November 11. /TASS/. Austrian Public Prosecutor's Office for Combatting Economic Crimes and Corruption has launched an investigation against a counterintelligence agent, who is suspected of leaking state secrets to Russia, the Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported on Sunday.

According to the report, the staff member of the Austrian intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, had shared secret data with the Russian intelligence. The man faces up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. The investigation was opened a year ago, the newspaper said.

The Russian Embassy in Austria has declined to comment on the media reports.

This is the second such case in Austria over the past few days. On November 9, Austria’s authorities said that the country’s law enforcement agencies were conducting an investigation into a case of a 70-year-old retired Austrian colonel who was suspected of working for Russian intelligence since the 1990s and of providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery systems, high-ranking officials and the migrant crisis. If the man is found guilty, he may face a prison term of up to ten years. The retired colonel has been detained and is being interrogated.

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said on Saturday after her phone talks with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that Vienna expects that Moscow would cooperate in full over the case of a retired Austrian officer suspected of spying for Moscow. Kneissl rejected Russian accusations that Austria was doing megaphone diplomacy saying that the Austrian government’s steps were based on clear facts. Espionage was inadmissible interference in Austria’s domestic affairs, she warned.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Moscow underscored "inadmissibility of the practice, which runs counter to norms of international communication, of making evidence-free accusations public."

Austrian President and Commander in Chief Alexander Van der Bellen warned against stirring up tensions and called on the sides to wait until the investigation ended.